The Holiday season is now in full swing and and it’s starting to get crazy. If the past years have shown us anything, there is more division than even before, and Festivus seems to be placed into the middle of the skirmish. If you thought that “Festivus” was part of the “War on Christmas“, call off the troops! You are simply mistaken. Move along…
In the past years, Festivus has been accused of being a “non-Holiday” and even of being “anti-Christmas”. Where do they get this stuff? Of course, if you haven’t heard, at least one individual thinks that it is a noble idea to place a “Festivus Pole” next to a “Nativity Scene”. It is part of his own battle against religion, a battle in which most people who celebrate Festivus are completely indifferent. However, to some folks on the Christian Right there is the notion that Festivus is somehow replacing Christmas.
Let me set the record straight. The Festivus episode, “The Strike”, where Festivus was introduced to the world contains virtually no reference to any sort of anti-religion aspect of Festivus. Mind you, there is a small part of the script where Jerry mentions the “religious aspects of Christmas” but this element never plays out in the story. In fact, it is mainly the commercialism of the holiday season that the Seinfeld Festivus story rails against.
Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
In the Seinfeld world, the Costanza family has no clear religious affiliation. Face it… it likely never came up in any of the writer’s meetings, the place where the entire Seinfeld universe was contrived. Even when George converts to “Latvian Orthodox” in a hilarious attempt to impress a woman, there is no mention of what religion from which he was converting. It just wasn’t important to the plot!
In the episode where Festivus was brought into the Costanza household, there isn’t any impression that it is replacing another religious celebration. To Frank Costanza, Festivus is simply a way to express derision toward a society that has become self-centered and commercialistic. For example, with Festivus you don’t buy a tree, you simply erect a plain aluminum pole. You don’t exchange gifts, you exchange complaints (grievances). Then, to complete the trifecta of wackiness, you finish the evening by wrestling the head of the household until they are pinned to submission.
Festivus is clearly not about religion, unless of course, you consider “Seinfeldism” a religion. To many it is, and it is the very thing that fuels Festivus! “Seinfeld” finished its run on network television 15 years ago, and it is still as popular as ever. Fueled largely by reruns, you may still hear references to “Yada Yada Yada”, the cries of “Mandelbahm Mandelbahm” and the moan of “I don’t want to be a Pirate!” Clearly, Seinfeld is ingrained in our society, and Festivus helps us celebrate the entity so many have come to love.
Seinfeld helps us laugh, and Festivus has become the “holiday” where “Seinfeldism” is practiced. So, laugh away my Festivus friends! Enjoy your celebrations, as they should be enjoyed, with Seinfeld-based mirth and merriment. When your usual holiday celebration arrives, enjoy that as well.
Just remember that with Festivus you won’t be caught up in the pressing need to go “doll-shopping” for your son.